The Sky on Fire Review – Hoards and Truths

By JoshuaMacDougall on

About JoshuaMacDougall

Joshua (He/Him) is a contributor and writer for the Reading section of Geekly.
He is an enthusiast for fantasy novels, tabletop games, and wrestling.
Follow him @FourofFiveWits on Twitter.


Anahrod was a teenager when the dragons declared her a traitor and had her executed, but she survived and thrived in the Deep jungles far below the peaks where dragons ruled over society. Her past comes back to haunt her many years later as her survival is discovered, and the First Dragon, Neveranimas, wants to finish the job. The Sky on Fire by Jenn Lyons is a whirlwind of drama and action involving dragons, dragonriders, magic, and romance that both feel familiar to those who read her A Chorus of Dragons series but treads new grounds and new challenges as a stand-alone book.

The way Lyons writes dragons has always been one of my favorite parts of her writing. I prefer larger-than-life dragons, linked with magic but still connected to the world and a part of it. The Sky on Fire does this in spades. The society in which the Seven Crests has been built upon where dragons are above humans in the hierarchy, is essential to the plot and the relationships. Anahrod’s strong feelings about this and the bond between dragonriders and dragons is the part of her character that spoke to me the most. Exploring the politics, bonds, and relationships between dragons and humans stood out as a shining example of how world-building, plot, and character development should intertwine and build upon one another.

The bond between dragons and dragonriders is a fascinating part of the human-dragon relationship. Dragons need to bond with a rider so they don’t go rampant, a kind of berserker rage that doesn’t end when a dragon is overloaded with magic and yet treats the humans below them. I find the actual bonds in the story to be the most fascinating part. Between Jahmeh and Tiendremos’ abusive bond, Ris and Peralon’s close bond, and both Anahrod’s and Neveranimas’ disdain for the bond, no bond is the same. The conversations about the disparity between dragons and humans while dragons need human riders between the characters is a highlight of the book for me, along with getting to know more about the dragons dragonriders have bonded with, like Peralon and Tiendremos.

Another highlight of the book was the straightforward romance. The Sky on Fire, being a stand-alone, jumps into it quickly, as opposed to A Chorus of Dragons, which had five books for the romance to brew in, but not so quick as to feel rushed. Rather than anticipating when they will get together, the story explores how they build trust to make the relationship work. This is explored in the world-building as well with the Social and Garden Rings Skylanders wear that tell one another their preferences for partners and relationships. Sex in fantasy is often talked about when it is done so poorly that it is comical, but the way sex and sexuality are explored in The Sky on Fire should be praised for its creativity, tact, and the skill with which it is written.

The author writes an exceptional heist, and this novel does not contradict that. Much of the book revolves around the heist, which tells us plenty about our main characters, the cities, and the politics of dragons. Lyons does not skip any steps to get to the heists. We, as readers, get the recruitment phase, the planning, the adjusting of the plan when there is a setback, the execution of the plans when the window of opportunity opens, and the abandoning of the plan when it goes awry. Without spoiling it, Lyons makes great use of the no plan survives contact with the enemy trope that heightens the tension on the ride to the climax of the book.

Jenn Lyons continues to pack heartfelt character moments intertwined with superb world-building, which leaves me ultimately happy with The Sky on Fire but open to returning to the world and characters I’ve fallen in love with. The pacing is brisk, as it is a stand-alone, without sacrificing any character interactions that pack an emotional punch. When an author whose previous series became one you belove, it can be not easy when they write a new book in a new world with new characters. The Sky on Fire exceeds my expectations for the follow-up to Lyons’s finale to her last series, The Discord of Gods, and will be a book I pick up to read many times in the future.

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Joshua was provided an advance copy of the book by Tor Books.

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